Gifts from the Garden

by Tom Tomas

Last year at this time, I wrote about planning to grow a small patch of garden to make money. This time, I would like you think about planning to grow a small patch of your garden to share with others. Once you begin to share, you will reap bigger dividends than you can ever realize in the marketplace.

Plant an extra row of flowers that you can cut and give as birthday bouquets. Plant a few more vegetables (not zucchini!) so you will have a surplus to share. There are many older people in every community who can no longer garden, but who appreciate fresh flowers and vegetables. You will be surprised how much you can learn from them when they tell you about their gardening years ago.

If your community has a food bank, a soup kitchen, or a church pantry, plant an extra row in your garden to help people who are hungry. Most food banks and churches tend to get a lot of contributions around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, but not during the growing season. Providing good, fresh produce to these service organizations in the spring and summer, and storage crops like potatoes in the winter, could make a real difference for people who donít have enough food.

Give flowers to children for their birthday instead of some plastic gadget from K-Mart. Save seeds from your garden to give when their birthdays come in winter. You can also share your love of gardening with them. That is something of value that can last a lifetime.

Braided onions and garlic or strings of dried hot peppers make good gifts for most any occasion. Dried flowers can be given year round. If you are willing to do a little more preparation, you can give canned fruits and vegetables from your garden. All this will take some planning now while you are watching the snow fall, and a little extra effort next spring. Think of the people you would like to share with and what you can grow that they would like best.

Share your love of gardening with urban people who may never have stuck their fingers in the soil, planted a seed, or harvested a tomato. Teachers in the Lincoln and Omaha area ask NSAS to link them with farmers who can teach their students about growing food. Gardening can provide city kids with skills that can provide food for their families, generate income, boost their confidence, and keep them out of trouble. More than that, it can provide urban people with healthy food, the sense of peace that comes from working the land, and an understanding of agriculture when they go to the polls.

Remember, while you are sharing the produce of your garden you will also be sharing the values of sustainable agriculture and sustainable communities that you live by. You cannot share these values by preaching. You can only share them by doing.

Anybody can buy things to give as gifts, but only you can share from your garden.

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